Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Westland Distillery. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link towards the bottom of this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
Westland Distillery has released a limited 3,000 bottle 2nd edition run of its Colere American Single Malt Whiskey – one of three whiskeys under their “Outpost Range” line. The name “Colere” comes from the Latin verb meaning “to cultivate.” While it still lacks an official U.S. standard of identity (although that may change very soon), single malt whiskey generally must be produced by a single distillery using 100% malted grain. In this release, Westland uses a 2-row winter barley variety called Talisman.
Westland Co-Founder Matt Hofmann stated in a May 2022 release, “[O]nly two releases in, we are seeing new frontiers opened as the exploration of new and ancient barley varieties continues. With this year’s release it’s not just theoretical, you can taste the impact that barley has on the final flavor.”
As I’ve said before, I believe story and motivation matter in the craft of distilling spirits. As lovers of brown liquors, we certainly focus on the appearance, nose, palate and price, but for many of us, the “how and why” of the spirit’s creation is almost as important. Founded in 2010, Westland Distillery is located in Seattle, Washington, where all of the company’s expressions are distilled from 100 percent malted barley and fermented with a Belgian Saison brewer’s yeast. In 2017, Westland Distillery was acquired by Remy-Cointreau, a French spirits group.
The distillery’s website provides a lot of information, and the embedded videos certainly seemed like a homage to Terrence Malick’s movie trailers, but I also learned the extent to which Westland is committed to the development of new varieties of barley. The distillery works with Washington State University’s Bread Lab and local farmers to have “distilled over 20 different varieties of barley in just 10 years… and committed nearly 40% of their annual production to these unique barleys.”
To lovers of the craft, these things matter. They show a passion for not just their product, and a way to create a market differentiator, but for advancing the art. And that’s something I can get behind. But, does this particular expression hold up? See below.
Vital Stats: Aged no less than 4 years 357 days. Cask types: 1st fill ex-bourbon (58%), 2nd Fill ISC Cooper’s Reserve (42%). Yeast strain: Belgian brewer’s yeast. 100 Proof, 50% ABV. Grain bill: Talisman Malted Barley, a 2-row winter variety. 700ML. SRP: $185 (Includes WA state sales tax).
Appearance: A pale straw and corn silk hue. In other words, this single malt presents as very light daffodil yellow.
Nose: A polite hint of honey and vanilla. Although I rarely land squarely in-line with notes from the distiller, this time I did with lemon peel. Overall, a lovely and mellow nose.
Palate: Out of the gate, the predominant flavor is the malted barley, and its unique profile is likely owed to its status as a rare varietal. The mid mouth is leather and dark chocolate transitioning into a little alcohol heat on the tail end, but in a very pleasant way.